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The leader in news and information on low energy nuclear reactions
May 10, 2007 -- Issue #22

Copyright 2007 New Energy Times (tm)
Published by the New Energy Institute Inc. six times per year


Staff 
Editor and Publisher: Steven B. Krivit
Copy Editor: Cindy Goldstein
Web Editor: Sally Robertson

Science Advisers:
Edmund Storms
John Armstrong

Support Team
Randy Souther
H.P.
Nick Palmer
V.F.
 
Contributors
Hideo Kozima  
Bruce Klein
Thomas More Institute

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EDITORIALS AND OPINION
  1.   From the Editor
  2.   To the Editor
NEWS & ANNOUNCEMENTS
  3.   Low Energy Nuclear Reactions, "Cold Fusion," in the News
  4.   American Chemical Society March 29 Meeting
  5.   Announcing The Beaudette Archive on Cold Fusion
  6.   More News on Cold Fusion Foe Cotton's Possible Homicide
  7.   "Null Tests of Breakthrough Energy Claims": A Report From EarthTech International Inc.
  8.   Purdue To Continue Review of 'Bubble Fusion' Research
ANALYSIS AND PERSPECTIVES
  9.   Charged Particles for Dummies: A Conversation with Lawrence P.G. Forsley
10.   Bechtel: A Development Approach for Cold Fusion
11.   Further Comments on the Widom-Larsen Theory
12.   An Introduction to "European Energy Policies: 10 Questions, 10 Answers for the Future"
13.   PUBLICATIONS
14.   SCIENCE AND ENERGY NEWS

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“I hope that it is not too late for the world to develop nuclear energy as the main source of power. At present, there is no securer, more realistic or economical substitute for the dangerous practice of burning carbonaceous fuels.”

— James Lovelock, founder of the green movement


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EDITORIALS AND OPINION

1. Editorial: European Energy Outlook at Risk

By Steven Krivit


Photo: Daniel Bosler

New Energy Times does its best to take a rational, practical and hard look at global energy issues, in addition to our focus on low energy as well as conventional nuclear reactions.

I recently encountered two interesting, starkly different outlooks regarding energy. The Europea outlook, in particular, appears to be uncomfortably vulnerable.

At the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, I had the pleasure of meeting Larry Page, the co-founder of Google Inc., and I heard his refreshing, insightful and even entertaining talk about the not-so-trivial matters of global energy.

I was touched when Page said that, when he was 12, he cried while reading Tesla’s autobiography, in which the author revealed the disappointments that life had handed him.

Page wanted to be an inventor, he said. And now, at 34, he stands behind a 30 by 50 foot projection screen with the words " SOLVE WORLDWIDE PROBLEMS." Here is a man who recognizes a common humanity, I thought.

Page is refreshingly and admirably unreserved. Without hesitation, he shared a simple but potentially revolutionary idea: "We spend a lot on security, but I think we should spend a lot more on making friends." 

Besides making a few political jabs, Page touched on important issues in science.

"We have some bad things: There is poor diversity and poor gender/racial/economic balance," Page said. "We have some good things: Scientists make great citizens. Unfortunately, few people in key positions have Ph.D.s."

He incited an outbreak of laughter by saying, "I'm amazed at how few people in power have Ph.D.s. You really want to have people in power that understand things."

But when he started talking about energy, I stopped laughing. He alluded to the idea that wind and solar could solve our global energy problems. I was perplexed because I was not aware of any such solutions.

There is no controversy over the fundamental aspects of wind and solar technologies. They are well-understood, and the underlying science is very mature. So if wind and solar are going to be our saviors, what's preventing them from delivering on the promises?

Meanwhile, over in Europe, a private think-tank known as the Thomas More Institute published a sobering report written by Hildegard von Liechtenstein. (See related article on "European Energy Policies: 10 Questions, 10 Answers for the Future".)

As expected, the report begins with the facts that oil production in the U.S., U.K., and Norway has peaked and that the forthcoming global oil peak is expected by 2020. Naysayers of peak-oil concerns say that oil will be available for many decades to come. Yet the key questions are, At what price, and will the price increase linearly as the availability decreases?

As this issue goes to press, a headline appearing from the Associated Press echoes the growing sentiment about control and access to oil, "Venezuela Seizes Last Private Oil Fields."

The Thomas More report reviews the EU's plans to expand natural-gas infrastructure. However, the report states, "The reserves of natural gas in Europe (outside Russia) will be exhausted within the next 10 years. Thus, in 10 years' time, we will be 100 percent reliant on the dependability of Russia and North Africa as energy suppliers."

Von Liechtenstein writes of the vulnerable position of countries dependent on Russian gas supplies: "The simplest method to paralyze Europe within hours would be for Russia to close the gas cock." And she writes of the uncomfortably close developing relationships between China and the oil-rich countries of Africa.

The report states that nuclear energy contributes to electricity production 17 percent worldwide; 85 percent in France, 28 percent in Germany, 43 percent in Switzerland and 0 percent in Austria, Belgium, Italy and soon in Sweden.

Germany and Belgium have decided to scale back on nuclear and, among all other EU countries, intend to import "nuclear power to compensate for their own inadequate supplies, enabling them to provide the population with the necessary quantities of energy at the much lower cost of nuclear power.”

She writes, “France is the only country in a position to export electricity summer and winter from its own nuclear power stations. A warning example is Italy with its existing power gap and dependency on energy imports. There, one large electricity utility intends to purchase three nuclear power stations from France."

While we hear the rhetoric about wind and solar, consumers, power companies and nations are voting with their pocketbooks for nuclear. Smart nations will use existing, practical technologies and concurrently try to improve solar, wind, and other new sciences and technologies.

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2. To the Editor: The Science that Won't Die

by Richard Jarman

What began as a bit of a whimsical reminiscence prompted by the March 30 Chicago Tribune article on Fleischmann and Pons has led to an extensive dialogue with some folks more than active in the "cold fusion" field. Will I have to do an about-face again, now that I am confronted with new intelligence? I like to tell students that a characteristic of the scientist is the ability to modify his thinking based on new evidence. this is often much easier to say than do. I like to use the example of John Dalton, the collector of rainwater and fabricator of atomic theories, and the problem of the formula of water.

Nowadays, the issue of the molecular formula is trivial because we have our table of atomic weights. Before the atomic world was clarified, before the atomic weights were amassed, the compositions of substances were merely speculation. There was the rather telling evidence that elements seemed to combine in fixed weight ratios; but that alone could not inform as to the atom ratios of each element involved. Dalton adhered to the doctrine of simplicity, which was prominent at the time. It was known that water contained both hydrogen and oxygen. Dalton proposed that the molecule has one atom of each element. Gay Lussac’s experiments with gas volumes clearly discredited this view. According to form, the scientist would modify his thinking and accept that, if anything, the experimental evidence was strongly suggestive of a hydrogen:oxygen ratio of 2. Dalton did not. Instead, he attacked the credibility of the experiments. His influence was such that Amedeo Avogadro's important contributions to the matter were largely ignored for 40 years.

The scientific community likes to think that it has grown up since then and that those sorts of things no longer happen. That is largely true but perhaps not universally so. Scientific organizations and scientific publications can wield great power, often in a monolithic fashion. Just observe how the vaunted National Science Foundation lurches from one big thing to the next. Scientists out of step with this knowledge-seeking ocean liner will get waterlogged. After the initial fiasco, the words “cold” and “fusion” could not be uttered in polite scientific society. Those that did would be dismissed as frauds or nutters, just as I did indeed dismiss them. That reaction at that time was probably reasonably justified. Nonetheless, as I am beginning to learn after my long hiatus, within this small community that has refused to slip gently into its good night, something seems to be keeping them going; in many cases, it is neither fame nor fortune but simply curiosity and unquenchable belief. Is there really something with all the heat and everything else so painstakingly measured? Plans even for commercialization brew, D2Fusion notwithstanding. Regaining acceptance into the scientific community, though, is difficult and will be slow. Latter-day Daltons largely rule the roost. I guess I have some more reading to do.

Richard Jarman is a professor of chemistry at College of DuPage, in Glen Ellyn, Ill. Before joining the faculty in 2003, he had enjoyed a diverse career in scientific research and development in small companies including his own, Spectragen Inc., as well as large corporations like Amoco and Exxon. His research interests include energy sources such as fuel cells and batteries, nonlinear optical and laser host materials, miniaturized lasers, amorphous semiconductor devices, zeolites and molecular sieves. He received his doctorate from Oxford University in 1981.

(Letters may be sent to "letters" at the New Energy Times domain name. Please include your name, city, and state or province.)  

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NEWS & ANNOUNCEMENTS

3. Low Energy Nuclear Reactions, "Cold Fusion," in the News

By Steven Krivit

Significant news coverage has come out of the recent American Chemical Society and American Physical Society meetings, as well as the 16th published low energy nuclear reaction paper by the San Diego SPAWAR group.

Richard Van Noorden of Chemistry World kicked off the series of articles on March 22 by breaking the news of the latest paper published from the SPAWAR group in Germany's premier science journal, Naturwissenschaften.

Van Noorden also provided the news that Robert Park, the former unofficial spokesman for the American Physical Society, "concedes that 'there are some curious reports—not cold fusion, but people may be seeing some unexpected low-energy nuclear reactions.'"

Jon Van of the Chicago Tribune sat in the front row at the ACS meeting on March 29 and wrote one article two days later. It was sparse on the science but replete with entertaining social commentary on the field.

On April 16, he wrote a second article with a decidedly different, and generally positive, tone. He wrote nearly entirely on the theoretical work of Lewis Larsen and Allan Widom. Neither Widom or Larsen presented at ACS or APS; however, Steven Krivit, editor of New Energy Times, mentioned highlights of their claims in his presentation.

Larsen, president of Lattice Energy LLC, didn't pull any punches in an interview with Van, calling others' LENR theories "foolish speculation." Larsen made another bold statement, venturing a daring prediction of LENR-based power sources within five years.

Katharine Sanderson of Nature was spotted in the cavernous halls of Chicago's McCormick Center texting updates to her blog and interviewing LENR researchers, nearly simultaneously. She described her initial perspective as "skeptical" but later blogged her agreement with SPAWAR's Frank Gordon that "this actually looks like real science."

Although one or two regional ACS meetings about "cold fusion" took place a decade ago, Sanderson astutely noticed that this was the first time ACS welcomed this science from its former place in the science ghetto. Last June, Nature was given the first option for the SPAWAR paper published in Naturwissenschaften, however one of its editors chose not even to send it out for peer review.

United Press International got the story right on March 29, introducing the proper name for the field and mentioning that "one of the original scientists behind the concept reported new evidence Thursday that the excess heat generated by cold fusion is nuclear and not the result of calorimetric errors."

Indeed, Melvin Miles, with the University of La Verne and formerly with the Navy's China Lake laboratory, explained in detail the mathematics and the principles behind Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons' calorimetry.

Bennett Daviss wrote an effective article for New Scientist on May 3 as a follow-up piece to the in-depth article on the SPAWAR San Diego research by Steven Krivit and Daviss published in New Energy Times in November.

For the record, the term "cold fusion" was never chosen by Fleischmann and Pons; it was wished on them by the press. It was and is a poor descriptor for the phenomenon. The concept of fusion remains highly speculative, a variety of phenomena are clearly not fusion, and then there is the Widom-Larsen not-fusion theory.

Related New Energy Times stories:

Report on the 2006 Naval Science and Technology Partnership Conference (Sept. 10, 2006)
Extraordinary Evidence (Nov. 10, 2006)
Extraordinary Courage: Report on Some LENR Presentations at the 2007 American Physical Society Meeting (March 16, 2007)
Charged Particles for Dummies: A Conversation With Lawrence P.G. Forsley (May 10, 2007)

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4. American Chemical Society March 29 Meeting

New Energy Times has available some of the papers and presentations given at the ACS conference. They are listed here. Please see the Science and Energy News section for news reports of this meeting.

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5. Announcing The Beaudette Archive on Cold Fusion


Charles Beaudette has donated his "cold fusion" archives to the University of Utah. "The Charles G. Beaudette Papers" (Accession #2297) are located in the J. Willard Marriott Library of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah. The archive comprises a collection of 1,800 papers, 700 quotations and 40 interviews from March 1989 through 2005. Also included are the proceedings for the International Conferences on Cold Fusion Nos. 1-11 and technical reports from other conferences, such as the EPRI/NSF meeting of October 1989. An overview of the items in the collection is available at http://newenergytimes.com/library/2007BeaudetteArchiveIndex.pdf.

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6. More News on Cold Fusion Foe Cotton's Possible Homicide

New Energy Times reported in the last issue that the death of former cold fusion opponent Frank Albert Cotton was under investigation.

Another report published on April 18 in the Bryan-College Station Eagle  states that Jim Mann of the Brazos County Sheriff's department is now describing the death of Cotton as "suspicious."

Cotton's family had initially reported the matter as a heart attack.

The Eagle reported "Mann said hospital officials contacted the sheriff's office when Cotton was admitted ... to report injuries 'that weren't neccesarily consistent with a heart attack.'"

The Eagle stated that Cotton had "won more awards than any facutly member in Texas A&M history."

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7. "Null Tests of Breakthrough Energy Claims": A Report From EarthTech International Inc.

By Steven Krivit

A recent published paper written by Scott Little, an experimenter with EarthTech International, suggests that excess heat from low energy nuclear reactions, which he refers to as cold fusion, may be nothing more than "perpetual motion."

Numerous attempts by the EarthTech laboratory to verify breakthrough energy claims over a span of 15 years have resulted in a "singular lack of success" and, in the case of LENR experiments, show no evidence of excess heat, according to the EarthTech paper.

According to a current investigation by New Energy Times, many, if not all EarthTech evaluations were performed at no cost to the respective claimants. According to Little, these evaluations have been performed by EarthTech with the aim of "promoting a better understanding of the problems encountered in the evaluation of energy devices."

The paper begins with the alarming statement that "our hydrocarbon-based energy system is slowly breaking down." The introduction also reminds the reader of the finite supplies of fossil fuels and the numerous conventional arguments against nuclear fission energy; these matters are without question.

Are you thinking of planning a family vacation to Alpha Centauri? If so, you are in for really big trouble, according to Little.

"These terrestrial problems," Little states, "pale in comparison to the likely energy requirements for interstellar travel."

Beyond that one brief mention of the problems of interstellar travel, this paper, presented at an American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics conference, reviews a brief history of "perpetual motion" and the process of measuring energy claims "based on the idea of tapping a new source of energy."

Little has tested the work of Ken Shoulders, Yuri Popatov, Roger Stringham, James Griggs, Tom Bearden, Dennis Letts, James Patterson, Tadahiko Mizuno, Randell Mills and George Miley -- all without success.

EarthTech's founder is Hal Puthoff, considered by the Department of Energy an authority in the zero-point energy field. Little reports that the firm has "designed and constructed several experiments to explore [the zero-point energy] hypothesis but without success so far."

In recent years, EarthTech has invested $20,000 and countless hours to build the calorimeter to end all calorimeters, which it immodestly calls Mother of All Calorimeters, or MOAC.

Despite 15 years of failures to replicate a LENR effect, Little writes that, "in the interest of scientific progress," the firm and its financial sponsor, whom it declines to identify, remain firm in their commitment and generosity to offer "free testing of promising cold fusion cells in MOAC" -- for those who dare.

Link to paper (PDF)

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8. Purdue To Continue Review of 'Bubble Fusion' Research

By Joseph L. Bennett

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - A congressional subcommittee has asked Purdue to continue looking into allegations of misconduct related to sonofusion research in the university's School of Nuclear Engineering.

In a letter sent Wednesday (May 9) to Purdue President Martin C. Jischke, Rep. Brad Miller, chairman of the Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight of the U.S. House Committee on Science and Technology, said that allegations against professor Rusi P. Taleyarkhan require a more thorough investigation than Purdue has done to date. Miller asked that the university provide the subcommittee with a report on an additional inquiry that Purdue began earlier this year.

"Purdue is a premier research and educational institution," Miller said. "One of its goals is to teach the importance of scientific integrity to its students and future scientists. I sincerely hope that the next inquiry will be conducted in a manner worthy of your great institution."

Purdue officials said Thursday (May 10) that the university understands and intends to address fully the concerns expressed in Miller's letter and in a subcommittee staff memo that details the congressional panel's conclusions.

"Purdue has worked closely with Congressman Miller's subcommittee and his staff in order to provide full access to the university's review of the allegations of misconduct," Jischke said. "The congressman and I have discussed how Purdue should go forward and have together identified steps for the next stage of Purdue's review process. At his suggestion, Purdue will add one or more outside scientists to the panel of Purdue scientists who have agreed to serve as reviewers during the next stage. Our procedures for resolving questions of scientific integrity ultimately must rely on the judgment of scientific peers.

"While there are characterizations in the subcommittee staff report that we could debate, it is not productive to do so now in the midst of our continuing inquiry."

Purdue Provost Sally Mason said the university began a new review related to sonofusion (also known as bubble fusion) shortly after announcing in February that a faculty committee had decided that the evidence it reviewed was not sufficient to support a finding of research misconduct against Taleyarkhan. The committee recommended that the university not proceed with a full investigation.

"Following that announcement, Purdue received additional allegations related to sonofusion and has begun an inquiry of them," Mason said. "Under our policy on integrity in research, we began this new review in confidence, and we will endeavor to keep the committee's activities confidential until we make our report to Congressman Miller's committee.

"Purdue intends to be fully responsive to the concerns expressed by Congressman Miller. We have made every effort to address honestly and thoroughly the allegations in this matter. We are in the midst of a very difficult and complex process, and there is much work to do. I accept responsibility for completing that work. As the chief academic officer of Purdue, I value nothing more highly than the integrity of my university. We will proceed systematically and fairly, and in the end, we will take whatever action is dictated by the evidence."

Joseph Bennett, vice president for university relations, said Purdue also has recently sent open-ended requests to potential witnesses, asking them to make a full and complete written disclosure of any misconduct they may have witnessed in sonofusion research at the university.

"Purdue makes an open call for witnesses to submit their evidence in writing to President Jischke, regardless whether they have received a direct invitation from the university," Bennett said.

Taleyarkhan, a professor of nuclear engineering at Purdue, first reported creating the "bubble fusion" phenomenon at Oak Ridge National Laboratory where he was a distinguished scientist. A paper on the team's findings was published in 2002 in the journal Science. Those researchers later conducted additional research at Oak Ridge, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the Russian Academy of Sciences before Taleyarkhan came to Purdue in 2003 to continue his research. In March 2004 and January 2006 his group published its second and third papers on this subject.

Scientists have long known that high-frequency sound waves cause the formation of cavities and bubbles in liquid, a process known as "acoustic cavitation," and that those cavities then implode, producing high temperatures and light in a phenomenon called "sonoluminescence." Researchers have estimated that temperatures inside the imploding bubbles reach 10 million degrees Celsius and pressures comparable to 1,000 million earth atmospheres at sea level.

Nuclear fusion reactors have historically required large, expensive machines, but acoustic cavitation devices might be built for a fraction of the cost.

"The Purdue administration cannot answer the ultimate question whether sonofusion works," Bennett said. "Only honestly conducted and reported laboratory research and debate in the scientific community can answer that question. From the outset, Purdue has affirmed its strong commitment to do its part to support the integrity of the sonofusion debate by addressing any alleged breakdown of integrity in sonofusion research at Purdue. The university certainly cannot address the circumstances under which Dr. Taleyarkhan's work at Oak Ridge was conducted and reported."

Bennett said Jischke has given Congressman Miller an update on Purdue's ongoing leadership initiatives for oversight of research on a laboratory-by-laboratory basis. In addition, Bennett said, Purdue earlier this year began a major revision of its policy on research integrity. That revision will incorporate the latest guidelines from the federal Office of Research Integrity and will improve procedures for addressing research misconduct allegations, he said.

Source: Joseph L. Bennett: (765) 427-1112, jlbennett@purdue.edu
Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; purduenews@purdue.edu

 

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ANALYSIS AND PERSPECTIVES
 
9. Charged Particles for Dummies: A Conversation with Lawrence P.G. Forsley


By Steven Krivit

April 20, 2007

Steven Krivit: I have a bunch of questions about your slide presentation from the March 5 American Physical Society conference. I'd like to go through them with you. Hopefully, I won't ask any really dumb questions.

Lawrence Forsley: Don't worry about it; there are no dumb questions. I want to tell you first about one of the things that I didn't have time to explain during the presentation: We had calibrated the backside of the detector in one of the experiments with a uranium source. At the time of the experiment, we had no idea that we would later find tracks on the backside of that detector, so when we exposed the detector to the uranium, we exposed the entire backside surface area.

Now, this does present some ambiguity between the calibration and the signal. However, we have two distinct regions where there is a very distinct, very high signal, and the remaining area of the detector has very low signals, on the order of what we would expect from a uranium exposure, and this is representative of the background calibration.

SK: I'm not following you.

LF: Take a look at slide No. 6, "Surface Comparison."

What I'm referring to here -- look at the front side -- notice where the three wires come across the detector. You'll see that the scanner stopped at about 2,000 microns into the detector because the software wasn't able to process all of them. There were too many tracks. But on the backside, because the track density is lower, it was able to scan across the entire detector.

What the computer is doing is taking, roughly, 500 frames, pictures on each of the front and rear surfaces. In each frame, it's going to go through a procedure of identifying what it thinks is a track and then categorizing it and then seeing if it meets the criteria for what we told it was a track. It records it and then moves on to the next one.

This piece of CR-39 was exposed to an alpha source to give it a calibration across the whole piece. The entire backside was calibrated. After the conference, I added this supplemental slide so you can see the full surfaces of the front and rear of the detector, in the correct aspect ratio.

SK: I understand that you do a calibration on the same detector so you can have a direct comparison when the experiment is done, but...

LF: Yes, that's what we did in our later experiments, since we knew then to expect backside tracks. We would expose the calibration source to a bottom corner of the detector only, and we would use a hotter source, which was americium. But for this one, we used a much weaker source, uranium, and we exposed the whole thing.

SK: OK, I'm following. So tell me more about this calibration. Where do you see it on this detector?

LF: That's exactly the point. What we have across the entire backside is a calibration intermixed with a purported signal from charged particles that were scattered by neutrons, otherwise known as a knock-on effect.

SK: Oh, I get it now.

LF: In the middle of the detector, corresponding to where the silver wire is -- all three wires went all the way across this detector -- do you see where the gold wire goes across? I want to call your attention to the silver wire. It doesn't seem to have much of anything on the backside. Here's what I did: I specifically scanned, separately, each of these regions, and I have taken as my background, for my calibration signal, the area right around where the silver wire would be. In other words, I'm treating any spot in that area as an alpha only from the calibration source.

SK: I still need to understand your calibration process better. You took this detector, before you did the experiment, and put U238 proximal to it and exposed the backside of it?

LF: Yes, I exposed the backside uniformly to a much larger piece of U238.

SK: What do you mean by "larger"?

LF: Bigger than the detector.

SK: OK, got it: larger than the size of the detector. OK, so that's why you say it has a uniform exposure rather than a distinct point of exposure on the detector?

LF: Right, exactly. I had a chunk of U238 which was just randomly decaying.

SK: Did you have to handle that wearing a radiation-protection suit?

LF: No, it's very weakly radioactive.

SK: And I guess U238 is mostly alphas and very little neutrons or gammas?

LF: It has almost no neutrons. It's actually depleted uranium. There's almost no U235. And the U238 spontaneous fission cross section is so small it's almost negligible.

SK: Did you choose to expose the backside because you were intentionally looking for signals on the front side?

LF: That's where all the action was up to that point. We knew there was action there.

SK: OK, great. Now I know what you did, how you did it and why. Please continue.

LF: Now, when I realized we had tracks on the backside, I was concerned about the calibration signals from the U238, so that's when I did the additional scans. And I found that the number of alpha tracks per square millimeter in the region where the silver wire was, even if some of them were from knock-ons, were so few to begin with that it wasn't an issue.

SK: You were concerned about the signal-to-noise ratio?

LF: I was concerned that the calibration signal was comparable to the experimental signal.

SK: Got it.

LF: So what I found on the backside was that the alpha signal from the U238 calibration, although present, was two orders of magnitude below what I've got with the cathode wires.

SK: Wait a sec. You keep saying it's an alpha signal. How do you know it's an alpha signal?

LF: Because we know that the U238 puts out alpha particles. And the reason we use it for calibration is because it puts out a very specific energy of about 4.2 MeV.

SK: OK, so when you've been saying "alphas" in the last few minutes, you've been talking about the emissions from the U238, not the experiment.

LF: Right. The detectors show in more detail what went on in the front and backside, but they primarily emphasize the negligible number of tracks from the U238 alpha calibration on the backside as compared to the far higher counts where there is a mixture of experiment and calibration signals.

SK: I had a little trouble with what you just said. Can you simplify that a bit?

LF: Look at the two images, in slide No. 6, specifically at the area across the middle, behind where the silver cathode was. I highlighted this with a yellow outline.

SK: So you're taking that whole strip across the backside where the silver cathode was aligned as the basis for your calibration?

LF: That's right. So now I show that number and point out its comparison per unit density with the unit density in any one of the regions - let's say where the gold wire was aligned on the backside - and show that there is more than 100 times the number of counts per square millimeter between the U238 alpha calibration and the experimental signal plus the calibration.

SK: And what are those counts?

LF: Under the gold wire, it's 2,224 tracks/mm2, and under the platinum wire it's 1,017 tracks/mm2. Under the silver wire, I summed and averaged the counts across the entire 3mm wide by 10mm long area, and it comes to 24 tracks/mm2.

SK: Let's backtrack to your slide No. 3. I understand that on the y-axis you are showing the thickness of the CR-39, which is typically 1,000 microns thick, and you are showing the characteristic energies of different particles and the respective energies each of these particles required to go a certain distance through CR-39. How did this graph get created? Did you do these calibrations?

LF: This graph is calculated from what's called a LET curve. It's a table that's used to calculate the stopping range of charged particles in different materials. It's derived from a standard set of calibration curves that are used by basically everyone doing charged particle and neutron dosimetry with CR-39. [J.P. Biersack and J.F. Ziegler, using SRIM-2003 code]

SK: So now I understand the foundation of what I'm looking at, and I see how you can know the energies of any particles coming through a piece of CR-39. So here's a dumb question: What's the point of showing this slide?

LF: Not a dumb question. The reason is, further into the presentation you'll see that I'm showing what appear to be tracks on the back, and I'm going to raise the question, "If something on the front appears on the back, how much energy does it need to get through there?"

SK: OK, good. Now I have a related question about the 6-micron Mylar that some people have used to chemically isolate the detectors from the chemical environment. If you've got something coming through that's of one of these three energies as you show on slide No. 3, a 10 MeV proton, a 14 MeV deuteron, or a 40 MeV alpha, do you have any speculation as to why it seems that 6 microns of Mylar is stopping these? What's the relationship between this kind of screen?

LF: I'm glad you asked that. Go to slide No. 4 . What I've got is a chart that's derived in the same way as that on slide No. 3, only this time I'm restricting it to the stopping distance of protons and alphas through Mylar. Now if I look across the 6 micron axis, you find - and I have the table I derived this from so I know the value - that 6 microns of Mylar will cause a 0.45 MeV energy loss in protons and a 1.4 MeV energy loss in alphas. In other words, if you've got a proton with half an MeV or less, you won't see it come through, and if you have an alpha with 1.5 MeV or less, it won't make it through, either. It's basically a filter, or a screen.

In a way, this is one of the two most significant slides in my set because this slide demonstrates that, even though there may be some chemical effect on CR-39, this particular detector has never been in the electrolyte. It's what we call a "dry" experiment.

SK: So let's talk about these images. I believe you said in your talk that the computer system generally is conservative in what it decides is a track and what it throws away, right?

LF: It throws out a lot of tracks that are real.

SK: You mean you have cross-checked it optically and reviewed what it rejects?

LF: Yes, what's happening here is that the scanning system, at least on the front side, because the density tends to be higher, consistently throws away valid tracks, conservatively, by a factor of 10.

SK: I understand that one of the criticisms of this method is that its not as reliable as a human eye to make confident determinations. Have you taken that into consideration?

LF: It's true that it's not as reliable as a trained, human eye, but those eyeballs have their limitations, also. Although humans are good at reliably detecting and differentiating tracks, the challenge to record and manage hundreds or even thousands of tracks per frame, and then hundreds of frames per detector, without automation is nearly impossible.

I've double-checked what the computer does and found that it underestimates the number of tracks in a given region by as much as one order of magnitude and rarely misidentifies something as a track. The system is not perfect, but in my experience, it errs on the side of being conservative.

The computer does something else that the eye can't do. With the computer, I can plot various distributions, such as the major axis diameter versus the number of tracks of a given diameter. From these distributions, I can determine what made the track and its energy by cross-referencing it to other experiments or published literature. The ability to correlate experiments in this way is critical to understanding the phenomena.

SK: In your talk, you said the track density of the Mylar-screen experiment is greatly reduced, which tells you something. OK, what does it tell you?

LF: It tells you that you may have a lot of particles that are either protons with less than half an MeV energy or alphas with less than 1.4 MeV energy.

SK: In a few slides, we're going to talk about the question about what the heck is creating this stuff on the backside. Both you and Pamela Mosier-Boss of SPAWAR said in your presentations at the American Physical Society and the American Chemical Society meetings, respectively, that the tracks might be from 10 MeV protons, 14 MeV deuterons, or 40 MeV alphas, but this would seem to suggest that the predominant particles are not high-energy alphas. Is that right?

LF: No. The Mylar does stop a lot of the stuff that is less than these energies, but it does not say anything about energies that are higher than these cutoffs.

SK: So you're going from a track density in wet experiments from about 10,000 per square millimeter to, let's say, a hundred per square millimeter in dry experiments. That's a significant change.

LF: We've counted 3,000 tracks in this field of view, which is approximately one-quarter of one square millimeter. These are about 600 microns across, so that says you've got a drop of about four or five times.

SK: Hold on a moment there. I'm looking at the third image on the right of what I assume is a piece of CR-39. Are you telling that this is not a full piece of CR-39 but only a fraction of a piece? In the past, I remember your showing similar pictures, which I thought were the full views of pieces of CR-39.

LF: Yeah, well, there's a legend up there; it shows it's 600 microns across. The entire length of the CR-39 detector is 20,000 microns across.

SK: Oh, I didn't look carefully at it, I guess. I looked at the image you displayed, and I saw about 40 tracks, and I thought, "Yawn, 40 tracks on one detector; this isn't too impressive."

LF: What you're looking at is literally 1/500 of either surface. There are 500 of those little squares across the CR-39 when I scan it. I added slide No. 5 to help clarify this.

SK: So do you have any idea what the background would be on this?

LF: The background is very low. I think it's, like, two counts per square millimeter. That means, in the field of view here, you might have less than one track.

SK: How do you know what the background is?

LF: We've measured it a couple of times. I've scanned pieces that have been in there during the experiments. It's tended to be very consistent. It's generally around 2.5 to 4 counts per square millimeter. What we're starting to do now is to keep a piece of CR-39 in the vicinity of the experiment for its duration to serve as a more-precise background detector. Sometimes, we have experiments that run for two weeks, and sometimes just for one week, so it's good to know the total accumulated dose for the duration of the experiment.

SK: That sounds like something you would have to do.

LF: It's actually not as much of a concern as some people think it is because you've got a background that consistently, over one, two or three weeks, has a background count of under five counts per square millimeter. Compare that to the experiment, which is producing something on the order of thousands per square millimeter. It's to the point of irrelevancy; you're thousands of times above the background.

SK: Let's see if this analogy would work. Let's say you are looking out your window toward a field of grass, and from here to the horizon, you can see only five trees, and that's what you'd expect from your background. But in the case of your experiment, it would be like looking out the window and seeing 10,000 trees, so the question of whether you have a statistically significant number of trees is pretty moot?

LF: You've got it. We can see the forest for the trees! But we still need to do the background measurements just to cross the t's and dot the i's.

SK: So tell me about the frame that we are looking at here. Is this kind of track density visible only in this frame, or is it representative of other areas of the detector?

LF: No, the frame is near a cathode. This frame is about 10 times less dense than some other areas. The reason we sometimes look at the lower density areas is that overlapping tracks make it difficult to resolve the tracks.

SK: OK, let's look at your next slide, the wet experiment.

LF: Slide No. 6 is a supplemental slide I added in after the presentation, it's the same data that is on slide No. 7, but I've found this view helps people to see the whole picture better. You've got the scan of the frontside on your left and the backside on your right. The front side starts out with a much higher density, but as you know, the machine fails if it gets oversaturated, so it stopped on the front at about 2,400 microns. It was able to go all the way across on the backside because the density was lower.

On slide No. 7, you're going to see that I've shown a higher magnification of one section, showing a 1mm wide section of the front and back of this detector. That's the area shown with the pink highlight on slide No. 6. You can't see any front-side tracks on this scan in that section on slide No. 6 because the scanner stopped. What I did instead was rescan just that 1 mm section so I wouldn't saturate the computer's memory. It's not that it can't count the tracks, it's that it runs out of table space, and it can't keep track of them.

SK: OK, now I'm getting the picture. I'm looking at slide No. 7 now, and I'm still a little confused. The pink highlight on the slide No. 6 showed a long narrow shape...

LF: Right. I compressed the vertical axis on slide No. 7 so you could see the relationships between the front and the back better.

SK: Another question: In this 1 mm section, why does it appear that there is a higher track density on the back than the front? This seems to conflict with what you have previously shown, which indicates a higher track density on the front.

LF: That's because, in this particular section, which is between 3,000 and 4,000 on the x-coordinate, that's just the way the density is. The density is not consistent over the length of the cathode, on either side.

SK: Any idea why the backside tracks look slightly shifted down, relative to the front-side tracks?

LF: I previously attributed this shift to the possibility that the three wires weren't normal to the CR-39 and that there was a slight tilt in each axis, resulting in the "shadow" on the back being slightly displaced.

SK: So do you have any idea what the deal is with the silver, why it doesn't show backside tracks?

LF: It's special.

SK: Uh-huh. Would you care to elaborate?

LF: No, that's all; silver's special.

SK: Gee, thanks, I'm so glad I asked. So you mean you haven't a clue?

LF: No, it's highly speculative at this time. All I'll say is this: You've got two lines, platinum and gold coming across and one not. For skeptical folks who think this is all just completely a chemical reaction, explain that and also how you get tracks on the backside correlated with two of three wires on the front side.

SK: Aha, quite a mystery.

LF: The simple explanation is that silver is the cheapest of the three and that, as the price of silver goes up, you'll get more tracks on the back.

SK: Ha ha. Very funny.

LF: But seriously, the significant thing that is worth pointing out for people who say it's just baloney, which it might be -- but it's certainly very interesting baloney -- is that you have three conductive wires. All three make tracks on the front, and two of them, by some unknown mechanism, make tracks on the back, and one of them doesn't. How can that be? Why would the chemistry selectively shadow two conductive wires over the third one?

SK: Hmm. You got me.

LF: This is a very significant question because this slide, and the 6-micron Mylar slide, as far as I'm concerned, answer all the questions like, "Oh, it's just chemical," or "you dropped it on the floor and it got scratched" or "my dog ate it" or whatever and it caused nanometer-sized tracks. Of all the excuses I've just given you, truly, the only one I haven't heard yet is that my dog ate it.

Maybe that's what happened. It was a very small dog. It had, you know, about 15-nanometer-sized teeth, and this dog could probably hire out with someone who has an atomic-force microscope. They would love to use its teeth as tips.

SK: Good grief. We better move on from this slide. Otherwise, ...

LF: It's just going to digress further...

SK: Yes, I can see that. Let's look at the first graph on slide No. 8. I understand the value on the y-axis. I sort of understand the value on the x-axis --you're talking about the diameter in microns of the pit -- but what does Xt/Mj mean? Does that have something to do with Megajoules?

LF: When you are looking at tracks head-on, they generally are not perfectly circular. They are usually slightly elliptical. What I am plotting here is the major axis of each track and their respective counts. This graph shows the number of tracks in this particular field of view. In this case, Mj refers to major axis.

SK: In the text related to this first graph, you identify three different distributions. I see them each on the graph and also where you write "4.2 MeV alpha" next to it in the text. Am I supposed to be able to look at the graph and see that 4.2 MeV energies are somehow derived from this graph? Does that come from some sort of reference data or previous electronic measurements?

LF: The predominant energy of U238 alpha particles is known to be 4.2 MeV.

SK: Got it. So what you are doing is listing it there as a calibration, as a reference point for your next graph, right?

LF: Right.

SK: OK. So what you are trying to say in the next line of text, where it refers to your e-field 3-wire experiment, where you write "4.2 MeV alpha" with a question mark is that you are suggesting that your experiment may show 4.2 MeV alphas because it has a similar distribution to U238?

LF: That's correct. You'll see that there are three distributions in these graphs, albeit they are slightly different sizes from the U238 distributions. In the case of the U238, the one that really counts is this larger distribution in the middle, which is the one from eight to twelve microns, given our etching conditions -- key word -- etching conditions. If we had different etching conditions, those holes would have a different distribution. This is crucial. This is why you want to have americium or uranium or something else always there as a calibration source.

SK: To make sure you're comparing apples to apples?

LF: Yes. ...

SK: Theoretically, you could etch it for longer, and where we might be seeing a major distribution of eight to twelve now, the major distribution could end up instead being 15-24, right?

LF: Bingo. You got it. Now these type of calibrations are things that Pam was not doing initially, but once she had done a couple, I looked at them and said, "OK, this looks like real stuff, so we better get serious about this now." There are two things we have to do. First, we are always going to have a self-calibrated CR-39 detector, and second, we need a background CR-39 detector in the vicinity. In our early experiments, it was easy to just stick the CR-39 on top of a chunk of U238 on the backside, not realizing that we'd end up finding data on the backside.

We later took smaller but brighter sources, for example americium-241 from smoke detectors, and stuck that onto the corner of the CR-39 detector. That had an additional benefit. When I am doing the computer scanning, I can always determine if I am looking at the front or the back: it provides a reference point.

There're a lot of details to consider when you are doing this. You must be very careful, especially when you are potentially producing 1,000 frames of view per detector.

SK: Very interesting. It seems that, with all these complexities, there are many places where, if you are sloppy, you can screw up.

LF: Yes, and when you get right down to it, accidents do happen and its happened to us and resulted in the loss of data.

SK: And human errors happen too, right?

LF: I'm more worried about human errors, and here's one of the biggest problems. After you've been looking at these scans for several hours, you get fatigued. So I've always had a rule for doing things like this, which really amounts to tedious work, by always working in pairs. We always have two people doing it, and we are always cross-checking each other.

Here's another thing that happens. I may save, in the course of scanning this stuff, upwards of 70, 80 or even 100 image files.

SK: Whoa.

LF: I name the files and the directories in direct relationship to the original source of the data, the day that I've scanned it and information about the conditions. In the worst-case scenario, if everything else gets lost, I can identify an image even if it's a single frame from the scan. It's all too easy, when you're working with one area, where you are referring to whatever makes that area on the detector special, to pick the wrong filename, and now I've put an attribute with it, and it's in the wrong place. That's why it's important to have two people watching this.

SK: Let's look at your third graph on this slide. I see that the major distribution starts at 12 and goes beyond 20 microns. Are you saying that this is from 40 MeV alphas?

LF: No. This is referencing back to that earlier slide where I showed what it would take to get through 1 mm of CR-39. If it's an alpha particle and it's made it through, then it would have to have had more than 40 MeV of energy to come out the other side.

SK: Oh, I see. You are asking the question, Is this an alpha with greater than 40 MeV energy?

LF: Right. If you look at the spectrum, you see three distributions, and this monster distribution that shows 12, up to and beyond 20 microns. So now, if this is an alpha particle, it has to have gone from the front, clear through to the back, and it must have had over 40 MeV in energy. The second thing is that protons don't make huge tracks, even when they slow down. So the question is, What makes tracks that are, in fact, larger than 20 microns?

SK: Why are you even bothering to speculate on the question of it being a high-energy alpha, considering what you know from the Mylar screen?

LF: The Mylar screen just shows that it's not a low-energy alpha.

SK: Oh, right, that's the lower bound.

LF: What I'm trying to do is present the limited spectroscopy information that is available: the Mylar has a cutoff; the CR-39 has a cutoff.

SK: I'm trying to see this from the big picture. If you perform a wet experiment, you get a very high-track density. The dry experiments, with the Mylar screen, show a significant drop in track density. How does all this data potentially fit together? It suggests high counts of low-energy alphas and potentially low counts of high-energy alphas.

LF: Yes, that's one possibility, but here's the part that you are probably not aware of. It is highly unlikely that you've got a source of 40 MeV alphas. I don't know of any reaction that will produce a 40 MeV alpha.

SK: You mean you need a particle accelerator for that?

LF: You got it.

SK: So what's left? Neutron effects?

LF: Yes. And this is the point. I'm trying to go through all the alternative explanations to consider what else could cause these results besides neutron effects.

SK: Gotcha.

LF: Now there's another thing I didn't mention. If you put a 40 MeV alpha through a piece of CR-39, what would the hole look like?

SK: Very small.

LF: Right. I've left out a glaring piece of information here, but there's a reason for it that comes up in the next few slides. And that is, What would the track from a 40 MeV alpha look like? The fact is that it's not going to be huge; it's going to be small.

SK: Could it be as small as one micron?

LF: Probably not. My guess is that it will make a hole on the order of four microns. The reason I'm hedging on this is because I have not seen any CR-39 data that shows me what that looks like and because it is an awkward energy to produce. Tandem Van de Graaff accelerators don't produce alphas of that energy. Generally, they cut off below 20 MeV. There are thermonuclear fusion reactions that produce 20 MeV, but 40 MeV is awkward because low energy machines won't go that high and high-energy machines won't go that low.

SK: I'm good with that. Let's move to slide No. 9, Neutron Track Size. I think I understand what you mean with the term "efficiency." Out of 100,000 neutrons passing through CR-39, the probabilities of one of them hitting an atom of, let's say carbon, oxygen or hydrogen, is one. In other words, how effective is CR-39 in catching neutrons?

LF: Right, and the answer is "not very."

SK: Now why does a particular material exhibit different characteristics of catching neutrons from another material?

LF: It's a function of a couple of things. Because neutrons have no charge, most everything, right down to even lead, looks like empty space to them. Second, the denser something is, the greater the chance that there will be an interaction. The interaction a neutron will have with an atom is generally a scattering or capture, depending on the energy of the neutron. And there's a third possibility: it can also shatter things.

SK: So let me summarize the possible effects: scatter, capture or shatter, right?

LF: Yes, and depending on the energy of the neutron, the capture may result in an unstable or metastable nucleus that may be radioactive and will decay.

SK: Scatter, capture and shatter.

LK: Yes. The scatter is where you get a billiard-ball effect, where the majority of the energy of the neutron is transferred to the atom, which then moves. But the direction it moves can be random because the neutron does not necessarily come in and hit it straight on. It could hit it on the edge, and now it goes scooting off in a slightly different direction. If you plot these out statistically, you don't get a uniform forward scattering into 2 Pi steradians. Part of the reason is that the efficiency of the scattering drops off as the neutron moves off from the nucleus. Most of them tend to forward-scatter. The next condition is that you get a neutron capture. Generally, if the neutron is of low enough energy, the atom captures it.

SK: So, for example, inside the CR-39, you might have a carbon-12 atom, and then it would capture a neutron becoming carbon-13?

LF: Right, and depending on the amount of energy it will have, it will have some decay. It will, first of all, be metastable. It's not only going to absorb the neutron, but it's got some excess binding energy. It's gotta deal with the kinetic energy, and for some period of time, generally very briefly, it's quite unhappy. Most often, at the very least what will happen is that it will give off one or more gamma rays, depending on how hard it got whacked. This is what is known as a prompt gamma from a neutron activation. This is used all the time in neutron activation analysis.

Now you have another one, which is called a delayed gamma. You might produce something which is radioactive in the process. That would mean it is unstable but it is not going to disgorge itself as a prompt event. And the second thing is that it may give off a prompt gamma, but being radioactive, it may be hours, minutes, days, seconds or years before it finally burps the last time.

When it burps the last time, it generally gives off one or more gamma rays as it works its way out, and it may also give off an electron or a positron, or an alpha and by virtue of this, change into a totally different element.

SK: Oh, I see. Low-energy nuclear transmutation.

LF: So the ancients were right; they just didn't go about it the right way.

SK: OK, I get the general idea. Now back to efficiency. What does this mean? Is it an indicator of the likelihood of seeing a particular reaction?

LF: Right. In this case, what we're saying is the probability that a given neutron, passing through a millimeter of CR-39 has from 10E-4 to 10E-5 of hitting something. Now, look at these two graphs in slide No. 9. They show two different ranges of energies.

SK: Hold on a sec. There are these things called neutron radiators, made of polyethylene, which are very efficient at capturing neutrons. What makes them so efficient?

LF: Some materials, like polyethylene, scatter neutrons efficiently because they have a high hydrogen content. These are neutron "radiators," and they scatter and launch charged particles, which are called knock-ons, although I'm oversimplifying things here a bit.

SK: So why would polyethylene be a good neutron radiator?

LF: Polyethylene's got lots of hydrogen in it, and it's cheap. Wax is good, too. Now there's another class of these things. You can also use materials like boron-10 and lithium-6, which have a high-neutron-capture cross-section. These will emit a charged particle as the result of the capture and the excited nucleus decay.

SK: Please explain these graphs. What am I looking at?

LF: There are two graphs, and they show the track size distribution for a variety of energies. The top graph shows energies from 1.2 to 8 MeV neutrons.

SK: First of all, where did this data come from?

LF: Look down at the bottom of the slide. It's from a paper by Gary Phillips and others.

SK: OK, so if it's not your experimental data, what does this have to do with your experiments?

LF: Quite possibly a lot. By looking at this, we can see that neutron knock-ons, as unexpected as they may be from condensed matter nuclear science, could be responsible for the large diameter of the tracks we are seeing.

SK: OK, I see. It's a reference point to show that neutrons will give you, generally, tracks of 7 to 27 microns in diameter.

LF: Right, and provided that I've got enough particles to give me a statistically significant distribution, I can match that against these kinds of curves to see if, in fact, they match up.

SK: Now I have a basic question here. Such a comparison would be contingent on a standard etch procedure -- time, temperature and molarity -- right?

LF: Absolutely right. And what I really need to do this completely properly is to have a known neutron source that produces some calibrated knock-ons. We've tried this once, but the source we initially used was too weak.

What I'm saying, particularly as you see in the last slide, is, Are these greater than 40 MeV alphas? Or could there be an alternative explanation?

The next thing is that, if the count versus track major axis matches any of these curves, it can tell me the energy of the particles if they are from neutrons.

SK: But I'm confused. Neutrons don't make any holes themselves, only things that they slam into, like carbon, oxygen or hydrogen make the holes. So why doesn't this graph take into account the particular material they would be knocking into?

LF: That's right. The neutrons don't make the tracks. They bang into things, and those atoms pick up the kinetic energy from the neutron and leave a track.

SK: So theoretically, you could develop a histogram similar to the one you showed on the earlier slides with U238 and your co-deposition experiment that shows a purported alpha distribution.

LF: Right. Here's the bottom line. Neutrons make big holes, and they range in size from 5 up to 40 microns.

SK: In the front and back?

LF: No, just in the back. It's gotta hit something. And here's the beauty of it. Let's say, for argument's sake, a 10 MeV neutron hits a hydrogen, and it hits it halfway through its passage through the CR-39. We know that CR-39 will just barely stop a 10 MeV proton which comes in the front, and it will have lost all its energy by the time it gets to the back. I probably won't see anything on the back after I etch. However, if it happens to be caused by a knock-on and the neutron happens to hit it halfway through the CR-39, then it will go a distance that a 10 MeV proton will go. It's not exactly linear, but when it comes out the backside, it will have about 5 MeV energy left over.

That means I can't tell the difference between a 10 MeV proton coming in and a 5 MeV knock-on started halfway through and going out. Both leave a track. Now, there is a difference, and it's where it ends up slowing down, and that's where it causes more damage. So there are more details, but that is the general idea.

So what's going to happen is an atom will move a given distance based on where in the CR-39 it gets whacked and how hard it gets hit. This goes back to one of the earlier slides where I've shown what happens with hydrogen, deuterium, oxygen and carbon. You can look at that and say, "Hmm, oxygen is pretty big. It'll take a 350 MeV oxygen to make it from the front side clear through the backside. But it would probably leave a hole big enough to drive a truck through if it does get far enough to leave a track."

Charged particles, alphas and protons don't produce holes like this, as some people have observed.

SK: Oh, I get it. So if your tracks are too large for charged particles, this provides at least several possible resolutions to that anomaly.

LF: Right, and here's the second thing. Most people who have had some experience with CR-39 have not had experience with neutrons in CR-39. There are in fact, very few people who have...

SK: Oh, is that high-energy physics?

LF: No, they haven't because they don't deal with this [stuff]. Some of the people that deal with this are the people doing neutron dosimetry, in the health physics field, following up people who are hanging around neutron-producing devices like nuclear reactors. You wear a little badge with a piece of CR-39 inside it, but those people generally don't care about the energy distributions of the neutrons. They just care about what their neutron exposure is.

The only other people that I'm aware of that, on a regular basis, that care about this are the people doing laser fusion, which is why I'm familiar with this.

SK: Aha, and Gary's background? Does he have any experience in laser fusion?

LF: Gary has spent the last several years in semiretirement performing research with neutrons and CR-39 to improve it for medical dosimetry. He's been publishing papers in this area to better quantify the neutron response of CR-39.

So between the two of us, with Gary's background in nuclear physics and his research during the last few years, we make a pretty good team.

Gary's accustomed to a range of neutron energies. My experience was with a range generally from 2 up to 14.1 MeV, because that's what you get from deuterium-tritium and deuterium-deuterium fusion and a range in-between which comes from other knock-on events.

This is why, when I saw the first CR-39 picture that Pam showed me, something looked strangely familiar.

It turns out that the one of the most important measurements in laser fusion is diagnosing knock-ons, because the energy of the neutrons and other particles coming off tells you an enormous amount about how efficient your fusion reaction is.

SK: OK. Let's move on to the next slide.

LF: Wait, let me explain one more thing about slide No. 9. You've seen those photos where Pam shows triple tracks? Well, what I'm showing here is that, theoretically, if you have a neutron going in at greater than 12 MeV, it can break a carbon12 into three alphas, three helium-4s.

SK: So let me ask you, if you put a screen in an experiment with lots of carbon, you'd expect to see more triple tracks then, right?

LF: Yes.

SK: So how about the double tracks which Pam has reported?

LF: A whole variety of neutron captures can occur, and they themselves tell you a lot about the energy. These will, in fact, give you two particles. In the case of where some of these things may be happening - neutron capture for example - there should be gamma rays, also.

Let's look at slide No. 10. The images on the top are from the same three-wire experiment; the one on the bottom is plutonium-oxide. The etching conditions are slightly different. Pam's etch on this detector is about three-quarters of what was done with the plutonium-oxide, so if we had etched the CR-39 shown in the top images a little more, the sizes would be even closer to the size of the pits using plutonium oxide.

SK: Wasn't Pam's etch a standard etch?

LF: Yes, but we found that something about the molarity of the sodium hydroxide was a little off, so we weren't etching as deep as we thought we were. But now that we use on-board calibrations, the molarity is a moot point for future work.

Here's what you are looking at. As you focus deeper and go into the CR-39, you should see a bright center as you get to the bottom of the track. Now what's important to consider is that not all the tracks may have etched all the way through. Other little marks are visible there that, if we etched more, would probably turn into tracks.

SK: Not sure I follow you.

LF: For the amount of etching that she has done, the ones that are closest to the surface have etched and produced tracks.

SK: Oh, I understand. There may be more tracks just below the surface but not visible right now.

LF: Right. And you see some evidence of these with these little spots that, if I were to etch further, probably would come out as tracks. Here's why this is important. Since the probability of a neutron hitting anything in CR-39 is so low, at any section through the CR-39, you have just the same chance, if it's caused by a neutron, of seeing a knock-on reaction as anywhere else through the CR-39. So theoretically, as you etch through, the track density should remain just about constant.

SK: What about all these torpedo things in the top right slide?

LF: Remember the billiard-ball thing? If it's a neutron, it's not necessarily going to hit a particle in the CR-39 straight on, or normal, as it is called. It could glance off it, and the momentum could shoot it off in a weird direction. You don't see them too much in the plutonium oxide, but if you look at it with a deeper focus, you will see some there.

SK: Hmm. This is interesting. This matches what you'd expect from one of the known types of neutron reactions. So again, I'm wondering how representative this is of what's seen on the detector versus the background.

LF: If you go back to slide No. 6 and you look where the gold wire is, you'll see that this pattern covers many millimeters of CR-39. There are thousands of these.

SK: OK, I can see that we potentially have a pretty good signal-to-noise ratio here.

LF: One more thing. Go back to the slide No. 7. There are 4,748 tracks in just that one 1mm-wide section. That is a statistically significant number.

SK: I get that.

SK: So have you got any major conclusions from all of this?

LF: Beyond what I wrote in the slide presentation, no. I think the data speaks for itself.

Lawrence Forsley is president of JWK Technologies Corp. in Annandale, Va., which he joined in 1995, and is a collaborator of the SPAWAR Systems Center San Diego Co-Deposition group. During the past 30 years, he has worked in fusion research as a laser fusion group leader and visiting scientist in chemical engineering at the University of Rochester; a consultant to the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Mirror Fusion TMX-U and MFTF-B experiments; a visiting scientist at the Max Planck Institut fur PlasmaPhysics on the ASDEX Tokamak in Garching, Germany; and a principal investigator on a variety of sonoluminescence, palladium/deuterium electrolysis, SPAWAR co-deposition and high Z experiments.He has specialized in temporally, spatially and spectrally resolved visible, ultraviolet, extreme ultraviolet, x-ray, gamma ray, charged particle and neutron measurements. He attended the University of Rochester and taught there for several years. In his spare time, he's developed and deployed autonomous seismic sensors around the world and applied space-based Differential Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar in places hard to write home from.

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10. Bechtel: A Development Approach for Cold Fusion

[Ed: This paper is reprinted from the proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Cold Fusion, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, 1995. Perhaps it is time to take another look at this perspective.]


Bruce Klein
Columbia, MD USA

Abstract

A plan is presented for investigation and development of the cold fusion effect, ultimately leading to implementation of commercial devices. The plan represents a methodical approach for identifying and addressing theoretical, scientific, engineering and economic concerns.

The plan is presented from the perspective of a large architect/engineering corporation which performs work in established energy industries and which is not currently involved in cold fusion. The plan consists of a number of phases designed to establish the corporation's level and method of involvement in the field.

The phased plan provides a number of decision points; at each decision point a commitment to a higher level of funding is made on the basis of additional information which has been generated by the plan to that point. In this way the corporation can control its financial outlay, yet funding is appropriate so that pursuit of the plan is not hampered.

1. Introduction and Premise

Successful development of commercial cold fusion devices has the potential to substantially impact a corporation which is presently involved in traditional energy markets. This impact could be negative, if the corporation ignores cold fusion developments and finds itself reacting to fundamental changes in its market. Energy companies have already been buffeted in the United States by deregulation of the electric utility industry, a declining market for new energy production facilities, and falling prices for new construction due to intense competition. The impact of cold fusion could be much greater.

The impact could also be very positive, if the energy company were to position itself properly for future developments. This requires involvement early (i.e. now) to assist in the development of the technology, to establish what a profitable future corporate position is, and to prepare accordingly. This paper presents a plan for an energy company to do these things.

There are two premises upon which this paper is based. The first is that the cold fusion effect in its various forms is real. There exists sufficient experimental evidence at this time that this issue no longer needs to be addressed. It is not justified to devote additional resources to demonstrate the existence of the effect.

The second premise is that it is not in the company's interest to try to develop cold fusion by itself, without cooperation from others who are already working in the field. Commercial cold fusion will come to fruition more quickly if cooperative arrangements can be made with those who are knowledgeable in the field, and if joint ventures are established with individuals and companies which have the requisite expertise.

2. Background

It is well known that the involvement by large corporations in cold fusion research and development is very limited. Nevertheless, there are a variety of strong reasons for an established energy company to become involved with cold fusion at this time. These reasons are all economical, and deal both with current market conditions as well as those which may come to pass in the future. The discussion which follows is presented from the viewpoint of an architect/engineering (A/E) corporation.

In general, an A/E does not build hardware, such as boilers, pumps, or electronic control systems. An A/E specifies the requirements for these components and designs their interconnection (civil foundations, piping, cabling and electrical distribution, etc.). In short, an A/E does all the design and engineering work required to assemble the many thousands of different components which make up a power plant or other large industrial facility. In general the A/E will purchase all the equipment and will oversee the manufacture of this equipment by its vendors. Finally, the A/E Will construct the facility or will provide construction management.

From the perspective of the energy-related A/E, energy use can be broadly classified into four categories. The type of work the A/E performs in each area; and the changes which could occur to the respective markets are discussed below.

a. Electricity generation and consumption

In support of electricity generation and consumption, a typical A/E, designs power plants, mining and fuel processing facilities, waste disposal facilities, and environmental remediation projects. The economics of cold fusion electric power generation devices may dictate that they are large-scale facilities like the central generating stations which exist today. This would support a traditional A/E role of system integration and construction.

On the other hand, economics may indicate that the preferable method of implementation is smaller-scale devices either located in neighborhoods or individual homes and businesses. This would disrupt the traditional A/E involvement in this market and would suggest that a different, non-traditional approach is necessary.

In either case, if cold fusion power generating devices are developed and they are economically attractive in comparison with other methods of electricity generation, an energy-related company would want to be involved in a positive manner. This industry is ferociously competitive around the world. There is an oversupply of engineering and production capacity for producing power plants, and establishing a competitive advantage is essential for a company's survival.

b. Propulsion (internal combustion engines, gas turbines, etc.)

An energy-related A/E is typically involved in projects required to produce and process fuel for propulsion. For almost all propulsion the fuel is petroleum, and example projects would consist of oil production facilities, refineries, and pipelines.

If cold fusion devices can be developed that are sufficiently compact and powerful that they can economically replace the internal combustion engine, petroleum use will drop precipitously. Existing industrial capacity will be sufficient to supply chemical, lubrication and plastics use of petroleum for the foreseeable future. The market for large facilities in this energy sector may virtually disappear. This suggests that a substantially different approach would be required by an A/E interested in staying involved in this market.

c. Industrial uses

Industrial energy use typically consists of electricity and heat. Often these are supplied by fossil-fueled power plants which produce steam; some of the steam is used for heating purposes and some of the steam is used to generate electricity. A typical A/E role is to design and construct the steam and electric generation plants. The same changes which cold fusion devices will make to electric power production will occur to industrial energy facilities.

d. Home use (heating, air conditioning, and electrical loads)

A/E's are typically not involved directly in this area. Instead the involvement is with the industrial base required to supply energy to the home. Again this consists of electricity, petroleum and natural gas. If self-contained home heating and/or generating units are developed, the need for external energy supply to the home will decrease. The impact on the industrial energy supply structure is obvious.

An A/E would have to adopt a very non-traditional posture to continue to generate revenue from this energy market sector.

So, the impetus to become involved in the cold fusion field, should it ultimately prove successful, is obvious.

3. The Important Questions

As has been mentioned previously, the important question is not, "Does cold fusion occur?" Instead, for a company interested in becoming profitably involved in the cold fusion field,, the important questions which require answers are:

Can cold fusion be used as the basis for useful, practical energy producing machinery?

Will that machinery achieve widespread use?

Can the machinery be made available in the foreseeable future?

If the first three questions can be answered in the affirmative, how can and should the company become involved?

To answer these questions, a phased approach to investigation and development is recommended. The phases, their purpose, and the methods used to accomplish them are described in the following.

4. Phase 1 -- Survey the Field

The purpose of this phase of the investigation is to develop a solid corporate understanding of the state of the cold fusion field. This phase of the plan is intended to generate the following information:

A detailed understanding of the different techniques known to produce the cold fusion effect.

The state of development of each of the cold fusion techniques, including:
Method and apparatus
Level of excess heat or energy production
Known parameters and unknown factors requiring additional investigation
Materials involved
An understanding of the theoretical explanations for the effect, along with supporting evidence for each theory.

An acquaintance with the researchers in the field; an understanding of their capabilities, funding, and plans; and an understanding of their willingness to participate with a large corporation.

To the maximum extent possible this phase of the investigation will be performed on a first-hand basis. Researchers will be visited at their laboratories, and their experimental apparatus will be observed. Theoreticians will be contacted, and their theories will be discussed in depth. A corporate cold fusion library will be established, and a systematic review of key publications will be performed.

5. Phase 2 - Establish the Broad Parameters of Practical Machinery, Economic Attractiveness, and Timetable

The purpose of this phase of the investigation is to make educated guesses concerning the form commercial cold fusion devices may take. The cost of commercial devices will be estimated based on these guesses. Approximate timetables for the development of each technique will be generated, based upon the state of development of the technique. This will involve performing the following steps for each of the techniques known to produce the cold fusion effect:

Select a device configuration. A reasonable approach would seem to be to choose an existing experimental cold fusion device which has demonstrated high levels of excess heat in a repeatable manner.

Estimate the size of the device needed to produce power at usable levels. A prudent approach would be to examine three sizes which will cover the range of possible devices: Electric power plant size (hundreds of megawatts), home heater/generator size (tens of kilowatts), and an intermediate size.

Estimate the cost of the devices if they were to be commercially produced. There is the possibility of large errors in this step, but one approach would be to identify existing industrial machinery for which a production cost is known and which is similar in form to the cold fusion device under study. The production cost could then be adjusted to account for differences in the materials of construction, difficulty of manufacture, and expectations of production volume.

Estimate the life-cycle cost of the device. This would include replacement of materials, operating costs, fuel costs, etc. Again, the most promising approach would be to make comparisons with similar machinery in use today.

Perform economic sensitivity analyses. These would examine the impact on device costs of changes in the parameters which are presently uncertain. This would include:

Performance of the device: For example, how would the cost of the machine vary if a higher level of excess power were achievable? Is there a minimum level of excess power which makes the machine economically viable?

Cost of materials: For example, if increased demand for palladium were to substantially increase its cost, what impact would this have on the cost of the total machine?

Size of the Device: The machine may be most economical in a particular size range. This will impact the way the device, is ultimately implemented in the marketplace.

Based on the above estimates, compare the cold fusion device with energy sources available today. Determine the implications for the ultimate economic attractiveness of the device.

Make a realistic estimate of the size of the market.

Establish an approximate timetable for development of the device. This timetable would be based upon the current state of development and the amount of additional work and research required to bring the device to a state of commercial viability.

6. Phase 3 -- Examine the Legal Implications

The purpose of this phase of the plan is to attempt to define the legal arena in which the company will be operating.

The sorry state of the cold fusion patent situation is well known. Almost no patents have been granted, and most researchers are operating without patent protection. This has probably had the effect of limiting communication among researchers to some extent. But this is not likely to be a corporation's major concern.

To a corporation interested in becoming involved in this field, securing patent rights will be an important aspect of that involvement. Several hundred patent applications have been prepared for cold fusion devices, and they undoubtedly have many overlapping claims. Detailed legal research will be necessary to attempt to understand the legal necessities of operating in this field.

7. Phase 4 -- Identify the Work Remaining

There are many issues which must be addressed before practical cold fusion devices are developed. The purpose of this phase of the plan is to identify the issues, determine what work remains to be accomplished to address them, and determine what talents must be assembled to perform that work. Some of the more critical issues are discussed below.

a. Theoretical Basis

A sound theoretical basis for the cold fusion effect will ultimately be required. Without it, improving the performance of devices will be a trial-and-¬error affair. A theory with predictive capabilities would be extremely helpful. A series of experiments is required to test the more promising theories.

b. Configuration

Configurations which produce higher rates of excess heat generation need to be examined. Examples include electrode surface area and volume, and the role of grain boundaries. A systematic examination of configuration effects will need to be devised.

c. Temperature

Most experimentation to date has been at low temperatures. Producing practical devices at these temperatures will most likely be difficult. The extent to which more thermodynamically useful temperatures can be achieved requires investigation.

d. Repeatability

In terms of much cold fusion research to date, repeatability means the ability to reliably produce the cold fusion effect. This in itself will not ultimately be sufficient. A practical device will need to reliably produce the cold fusion effect at a power level which is known and repeatable.

e. Throttling

To be truly useful as a practical machine, it will be necessary to have a mechanism to throttle a cold fusion device. This means the ability to turn it on and off at will, and to vary its output. Mechanisms to accomplish this will need to be explored.

f. Radiation

The general attitude in the cold fusion community is that radiation generated during experiments is good, because it demonstrates that a nuclear process is at work. The business perspective is exactly the opposite. Concerns about radiation (whether those concerns are rational or not) have severely affected the development of fission power in the United States and other parts of the world. Even if the radiation emitted from cold fusion devices is very low, irrational fears could be very damaging. The levels of radiation which can be expected from practical devices needs to be well examined.

g. Long-term Performance

Many cold fusion experiments have been short-term. Longer term testing is required to determine what periodic maintenance and replacement will be necessary with a commercial device. In other words, will the electrodes or some other parts of the devices "wear out" with time? How often will these parts need replacement or replenishment? How will this be done and how much will it cost?

A series of long-term experiments will be necessary to examine this issue.

h. Power Conversion

Methods must be developed for converting the excess heat generated by cold fusion devices into electricity. Reasonably high conversion efficiencies are likely to be required. It is not sufficient to say that the source of energy is cheap and plentiful and therefore conversion efficiency is not an issue. Solar energy is cheap and plentiful, yet low conversion efficiencies have so far made widespread implementation of solar power uneconomical.

So, potential power conversion technologies will have to be identified. Modifications required to match them to the output characteristics of cold fusion devices will have to be explored.

8. Phase 5 -- Establish Working Relationships

Phase 4 described above will identify the areas requiring work. Based on this, the talents and resources required to perform the work will be established. The purpose of Phase 5 will be to establish relationships with other organizations. In its traditional role as systems integrator for large, complex projects involving many different organizations, the A/E may be particularly suited to establishing consortium and joint venture arrangements.

Participants would include researchers in the field, companies and laboratories with the necessary expertise to perform the work, and companies with an interest in sharing costs and risks.

9. Phase 6 -- Perform Directed Experimentation

The purpose of this phase is to perform experimentation and research in a logical manner to address the issues raised in Phase 4. The work would be performed by the organizations assembled in Phase 5.

10. Phase 7 -- Develop Prototypes

Once a sufficient number of the outstanding technical and economic questions have been addressed, it will be possible to build and test prototype devices. By this time in the process, the information which has been generated will probably have narrowed the candidate configurations to a small number. The most promising will be constructed.

11. Phase 8 -- Initiate Commercial Implementation

If all the earlier phases of this plan achieve success, and the economic outlook is positive, the ultimate goal of all the cold fusion efforts will be possible: commercial implementation. It is not possible at this time to describe the form this implementation will take; generating that information is the goal of the first seven phases of the plan.

12. Summary

The potential impact of cold fusion on a company currently involved in the energy industry is too great to ignore. If a phased approach is used, in which each phase represents an increment of financial and technical involvement, the company can minimize its financial exposure while still establishing a favorable competitive position. The benefits of such a plan are further enhanced if the company pursues this work in cooperation with others already involved in the field.

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11. Further Comments on the Widom-Larsen Theory

By Hideo Kozima

Many ideas explain the mechanism of cold fusion, a phenomenon belonging to solid state-nuclear physics, or condensed matter nuclear science, including the one assuming the existence of neutrons in solids, which John Fisher and I have pursued enthusiastically with success. The most serious problem with this approach is the origin of neutrons assumed beforehand to explain various events of the cold fusion phenomenon.

In the case of my trapped neutron catalyzed fusion model, the neutrons are assumed to be the thermal background neutrons trapped in solids and neutrons bred by nuclear reactions between the trapped neutrons and nuclei in the solids.

A new mechanism is proposed by Widom and Larsen. Their theory assumes the inverse reaction of neutron disintegration to a proton, an electron and an anti-neutrino in solids. It is good to have a new mechanism to supply neutrons to catalyze nuclear reactions responsible for cold fusion, if this mechanism supplies enough neutrons to explain cold fusion.

I noticed no reference to any paper in which neutrons are used to explain nuclear reactions in cold fusion. In our research history of 16 years in the field of cold fusion, we have accumulated vast experimental data sets and theoretical approaches that should not be forgotten. Widom and Larsen should consider the theories of Fisher and Kozima, with the relevant explanations of events in cold fusion, even if the ideas on neutron production in solids are different.

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12. An Introduction to "European Energy Policies: 10 Questions, 10 Answers for the Future" by Hildegard von Liechtenstein

By the Staff of Thomas More Institute

On March 8, 2006, the president of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, presented a Green Paper on "European Energy Policy." The commission's Green Paper opens an interesting public debate that must be watched closely. It treats six priority domains: "an internal energy market," "solidarity among the member states," "durable, efficient, diverse energy sources," "issues tied to global warming," "new energetic technologies and strategies" and "a common foreign energy policy."

Now, we can ascertain that we have entered an era of "expensive oil," increased by the "gas war" that started in the winter because of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. We now can understand the important role Moscow is going to play in the energy future of Europe. We hope the commission will take the whole matter seriously.

But in the article associated with the Green Paper's inauguration - published in many European journals - signed by José Manuel Barroso and Andris Piebalgs, European commissioner for energy, we read the following astonishing lines: "Europe needs to set the framework for different low-carbon energies to thrive. For some, that might mean wind power, for some, solar power, and for others, clean coal. Some member states are considering the further development of nuclear power. We do not have the luxury of promoting one energy source to the exclusion of others."

Wind power, solar power, clean coal and, in the end, almost hidden, nuclear power! What a surprising change, and what a curious denial of the truth!

The reality is expressed in the quality and depth of the paper presented by Hildegard von Liechtenstein. She earned her doctorate in bioengineering and pharmacy and wrote her dissertation on the effects of nuclear technology on the environment.

In 10 questions and 10 answers, she provides an overview of the European energy situation:

-- Oil and gas? We know these resources are limited: we must control their use in the energy-making processes.

-- Coal? Still inexpensive but a big pollution source.

-- Renewable energies? Even if exploiting all the sources and enhancing the research work in order to obtain some significant results is desirable, thinking that wind power or solar power can cover rapidly an essential part of Europe's energy needs is an illusion.

-- And what about nuclear power? Though it has a bad reputation in most countries, this energy source reunites two major qualities: It produces low-cost energy and can assure energy independence of the EU countries.

We are on the eve of a century in which the energy will be the most important stake on the international stage, and we cannot neglect this argument.

This seventh paper of Thomas More Institute is a paper of advocacy, an appeal for realism and political courage, a reference manual for clear thinkers.

Web site: http://institut-thomas-more.org
Download Paper

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13. PUBLICATIONS
 

Szpak, S., et al., "Erratum: Further Evidence Of Nuclear Reactions In The Pd/D Lattice: Emission Of Charged Particles," Naturwissenschaften, DOI 10.1007/s00114-007-0247-x (April 2007)

Text of erratum: "In our above-mentioned paper, we describe a model that results in the generation of low-energy neutrons. We find that Widom and Larsen have done a thorough mathematical treatment that describes one mechanism to create such low energy neutrons. This mathematical treatment has been described in the following reference: Widom A, Larsen L (2006) 'Ultra Low Momentum Neutron Catalyzed Nuclear Reactions On Metallic Hydride Surfaces,' Eur Phys J C46:107-111. We regret the omission of this reference."

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14. SCIENCE AND ENERGY NEWS
Click on any headline to read the entire article.

Fighting For Fusion
By William Matthews
DefenseNews.com
Monday, March 5, 2007

On Nov. 11, 2005, the day his small fusion reactor exploded in a shower of sparks and metal fragments, even physicist Robert Bussard didn’t know what he had achieved.

For 11 years, the U.S. Navy quietly funded Bussard’s research. It was a small project with a very large goal: deriving usable energy from controlled nuclear fusion.

Funding ran out at the end of 2005 and Bussard was supposed to spend the tail end of the year shutting down his lab. He kept postponing that in an effort to finish a final set of experiments.

(article continues)


Cold Fusion Back on the Menu
By Richard Van Noorden
Chemistry World
Thursday, March 22, 2007

Most chemists would rather forget all about cold fusion. After the barrage of criticism dismissing Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann's sensational 1989 claims that nuclei could be forced to fuse and release excess energy at room temperature, only a small core of researchers has kept the idea from fading away entirely.

Yet preparations are under way for an invited symposium focusing on cold fusion and low-energy nuclear reactions at the American chemical society's (ACS) 2007 conference in Chicago next week. Isolated presentations have been scattered around ACS meetings before, and the American physical society (APS) groups together a number of cold fusion researchers every year, but the last comparable session was 'so far off I can't remember', according to cold fusion advocate George Miley, of the University of Illinois, US. Even Fleischmann himself has a paper at the ACS, though the eighty-year old chemist will not be attending.

(article continues)


Fusion Controversy Heats Up...Again
By Robert F. Service
ScienceNOW Daily News
Thursday, March 22, 2007

A Congressional subcommittee has stoked the flames under the cauldron of controversy that is bubble fusion. Those flames all but died out last month after an internal investigation at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, absolved nuclear engineer Rusi Taleyarkhan of any scientific misconduct surrounding his research on producing nuclear fusion in collapsing bubbles (ScienceNOW, 7 February). But yesterday, Representative Brad Miller (D-NC), who heads the Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee of the House Committee on Science and Technology sent a letter to Purdue's President Martin Jischke requesting a copy of the university's internal reports on their inquiry. Miller says he'd like to know whether or not to believe Taleyarkhan's controversial claims that he's seen evidence for fusion in collapsing bubbles. But he's more interested in Purdue's investigation. "I think it's more of a concern about the procedures at Purdue to make sure they are assuring ethical conduct in research," Miller says. He adds that because the federal government spends billions of dollars on research at universities each year, it's essential that Congress ensure that misconduct investigations operate as intended.

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Congress Asks Purdue For Fusion Claim Findings
By Kenneth Chang
The New York Times
Friday, March 23, 2007

A Congressional committee has asked Purdue University for copies of its findings in an investigation of a Purdue scientist who claims to have generated nuclear fusion in a desktop experiment.

In a series of scientific papers beginning in 2002, the scientist, Rusi P. Taleyarkhan, said that by using sound waves he could generate temperatures hot enough for hydrogen atoms to meld and release energy, a process called fusion, similar to how the Sun makes heat and light.

Purdue investigated Dr. Taleyarkhan's work and released a statement last month saying that the inquiry had cleared the scientist of charges of research misconduct.

(article continues)


'Cold fusion' rebirth? Symposium explores low energy nuclear reaction
American Chemical Society press release
Thursday, March 29, 2007

In 1989, ‘cold fusion’ was hailed as a scientific breakthrough with the potential to solve the world’s energy problems by providing a virtually unlimited energy source. But subsequent experiments largely failed to replicate the initial findings and the controversial concept was dismissed by most people in the scientific community.

“Although ‘cold fusion’ is considered controversial, the scientific process demands of us to keep an open mind and examine the new results once every few years,” says Gopal Coimbatore, Ph.D., of Texas Tech University, program chair of the American Chemical Society’s Division of Environmental Chemistry.

Now, some researchers say they have new evidence that the phenomena — now called ‘low energy nuclear reactions’ — has evolved and is supported by rigorous, repeatable experimental data. Nearly a dozen scientists will present their findings during a daylong symposium, “New Energy Technology,” on Thursday, March 29, at the 233rd national meeting of the American Chemical Society.

(article continues)


Cold Fusion is Back at the American Chemical Society
By Katharine Sanderson
Nature
Thursday, March 29, 2007

After an 18-year hiatus, the American Chemical Society (ACS) seems to be warming to cold fusion. Today that society is holding a symposium at their national meeting in Chicago, Illinois, on 'low-energy nuclear reactions', the official name for cold fusion.

Some say the move shows that researchers are re-opening their eyes to work in this field. Others maintain that there is still no evidence for cold fusion and see the session only as a curiosity.

(article continues)


Scientists Shed New Light on Cold Fusion
United Press International
Thursday, March 29, 2007

U.S. scientists say the concept of cold fusion, a controversial concept once hailed as a scientific breakthrough, may be ready for rebirth.

Researchers at a meeting of the American Chemical Society in Chicago this week said the phenomenon now known as low energy nuclear reaction, is supportable by "rigorous, repeatable experimental data," the ACS said in a release.

Nearly a dozen scientists presented their findings at Thursday's meeting.

(article continues)


'Cold Fusion' Rebirth? Symposium Explores Low Energy Nuclear Reactions
Science Daily
Friday, March 30, 2007

"Although 'cold fusion' is considered controversial, the scientific process demands of us to keep an open mind and examine the new results once every few years," says Gopal Coimbatore, Ph.D., of Texas Tech University, program chair of the American Chemical Society's Division of Environmental Chemistry.

Now, some researchers say they have new evidence that the phenomena -- now called 'low energy nuclear reactions' -- has evolved and is supported by rigorous, repeatable experimental data. All papers in this symposium are embargoed for 8:30 a.m., March 29. The symposium will be held at McCormick Place South, Room S106B, Level 1.

(article continues)


New spring for cold fusion?
By Erik Tunstad, Editor
www.forskning.no
Friday, March 30, 2007

Several apparently reproducible studies give ground for new but cautious acceptance of nuclear power from the benchtop.

"Nothing would be better than if Fleischmann and Pons were right," I wrote in a commentary in December of 2004. For those who do not know: we are talking about cold fusion.

At the 233rd national meeting of the American Chemical Society, several reports were presented where the authors claim to be able to support that low energy nuclear reactions occur, and that the field has evolved and is now studied rigorously and with repeatable experimental data.

(article continues)


Loyal Group Chases Cold-Fusion Dream
By Jon Van
The Chicago Tribune
Friday, March 30, 2007

Unlimited energy brewed in a bottle sparked a worldwide sensation nearly 18 years ago. Promises that cold fusion would power the planet, however, were shot down in little more than a month.

On Thursday, researchers who continue to believe in cold fusion drew fewer than a dozen spectators to Chicago for the national meeting of the American Chemical Society.

Still, the dream believers remain undeterred.

(article continues)


Purdue Gives Research to Congress
By Brian Wallheimer
The Journal & Courier [Lafayette-West Lafayette, Indiana]
Friday, April 6, 2007

A congressional committee in Washington D.C. has asked for all the documentation on a Purdue inquiry over alleged research misconduct by nuclear scientist and Purdue professor Rusi Taleyarkhan. Several people in the scientific community, and others at Purdue, have said the university's inquiry, which cleared Taleyarkhan of any wrongdoing, was not thorough and came to the wrong conclusion.

Purdue met Thursday's deadline for turning over the information, spokeswoman Jeanne Norberg said. But the university has refused comment other than the finding that there was no misconduct. Officials cite a university policy that keeps these matters private to protect researchers' reputations.

(article continues)


Science Comes in From the Cold
By David Bradley
Intute [U.K.]
Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Research into the phenomenon formerly known as cold fusion is heating up again. Despite an initial chilly reception to anything related to this once-maverick science, it seems that studies of what are now called "low energy nuclear reactions" are re-emerging as potentially valid science. Almost a dozen scientists presented the latest findings in low energy nuclear reactions to the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society in Chicago during March.

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Nuclear Reactions May Produce Phones' Power
By Jon Van
The Chicago Tribune
Monday, April 16, 2007

For several years a Chicago entrepreneur has labored quietly building a company to create an alternative to batteries for powering cell phones and other small gadgets.

The company, Lattice Energy LLC, deliberately kept a low profile because its core technology, first called cold fusion 18 years ago, has long been ridiculed by mainstream scientists. Lewis Larsen, Lattice's founder, didn't want his enterprise tainted by the empty promises of unlimited cheap energy surrounding cold fusion.

(article continues)


Cold Fusion Makes Its Case in Chicago
By Steve Ritter
Chemical & Engineering News
Monday, April 23, 2007

In a meeting room tucked away in a far corner of Chicago's mammoth McCormick Place Convention Center, a small band of faithful cold fusion researchers and advocates gathered on March 29, the final day of the American Chemical Society national meeting, for a symposium to showcase evidence in support of the original cold fusion findings that were announced at a press conference 18 years ago.

This time, the speakers conceded that the massive amount of cheap, pollution-free energy once hoped for by fusing deuterium nuclei at room temperature was not likely to be achieved anytime soon, if ever.

(article continues)


Professor Cotton's Death Investigated
By Arena Welch
The Eagle (Texas A&M)
Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Detectives on Tuesday continued to investigate what they described as the "suspicious" death of a 76-year-old distinguished professor at Texas A&M buried almost two months ago.

F. Albert Cotton died Feb. 20 after being hospitalized since mid-October following what his family thought was a heart attack, according to Chief Deputy Jim Mann of the Brazos County Sheriff's Department.

Cotton had been in a coma since being admitted to St. Joseph Regional Health Center in Bryan, Mann said, adding that he did not know the cause of Cotton's death.

Mann said hospital officials contacted the sheriff's office when Cotton was admitted in October to report injuries "that weren't necessarily consistent with a heart attack."

(article continues)


Administration Proposes New Energy Drilling
By Edmund L. Andrews
The New York Times
Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The Bush administration proposed on Monday leasing out millions of acres along the coasts of Alaska and Virginia to oil and gas drillers, a move that would end a longstanding ban on drilling in those environmentally sensitive areas.

Both areas have been closed to new drilling for many years. The areas off Virginia are still covered by laws that prohibit new drilling in all areas along the Atlantic and Pacific seaboards. But Congress lifted the prohibition on Bristol Bay off Alaska in 2003, and President Bush lifted an executive order in January that had blocked drilling there through 2012.

In the case of Virginia, administration officials are hoping to capitalize on interest in drilling expressed by the state legislature, which passed a bill last year asking the federal government to allow exploration for natural gas in waters 50 miles or farther from the state coastline.

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Venezuela Seizes Last Private Oil Fields
By Natalie Obiko Pearson, AP Business Writer
San Francisco Chronicle
Tuesday, May 1, 2007

President Hugo Chavez's government took over Venezuela's last privately run oil fields Tuesday, intensifying a power struggle with international companies over the world's largest known single petroleum deposit.

"The nationalization of Venezuela's oil is now for real," said Chavez, who declared that for Venezuela to be a socialist state it must have control over its natural resources.

Chavez accused foreign oil companies of bad drilling practices due to their hunger for quick profits, and said Venezuela could sue them for causing lasting damage to oil fields.

While the state takeover had been planned for some time, BP PLC, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp., France's Total SA and Norway's Statoil ASA remain locked in a struggle with the Chavez government over the terms and conditions under which they will be allowed to stay on as minority partners.

(article continues)


Cold Fusion Rides Again
By Bennett Daviss
New Scientist
Saturday, May 5, 2007

From a distance, the plastic wafer Frank Gordon is proudly displaying looks like an ordinary microscope slide. Yet to Gordon it is hugely more significant than that. If he is to be believed, the pattern of pits embedded in this unassuming sliver of polymer provides confirmation for the idea that nuclear fusion reactions can be made to happen at room temperature, using simple lab equipment. It's a dramatic claim, because nuclear fusion promises virtually limitless energy.

Gordon's plastic wafer is the product of the latest in a long line of "cold fusion" experiments conducted at the US navy's Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center in San Diego, California. What makes this one stand out is that it has been published in the respected peer-reviewed journal Naturwissenschaften, which counts Albert Einstein, Werner Heisenberg and Konrad Lorenz among its eminent past authors. Could it really be true that nuclear fusion can be coaxed into action at room temperature, using only simple lab equipment? Most nuclear physicists don't think so, and dismiss Gordon's pitted piece of plastic as nothing more than the result of a badly conceived experiment. So who is right?

(article continues)


Attorney: State Must Speed Mallove Slaying Case
By Greg Smith
Norwich Bulletin
Wednesday, May 9, 2007

NEW LONDON -- The defense attorney for one of two men charged with felony murder in the 2004 beating death of a respected New Hampshire scientist is asking the state to expedite its findings.

New London State's Attorney Michael Regan Tuesday indicated he is ordering further forensic tests that could link Gary McAvoy, 45, and Joseph Reilly, 41, to the March 14, 2004, beating death of Eugene Mallove.

Known as a champion of cold fusion, Mallove, the father of two, was the president of the New Energy Institute and editor/publisher of Infinite Energy, which is still published.

He wrote the Pulitzer-nominated book "Fire From Ice: Searching for the Truth Behind the Cold Fusion Furor."

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